Quick Tip-Is There a Benefit to Running on an Empty Stomach?

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter talking about the best options for fueling your body during a long endurance event. I’m partial to using real food as fuel, even if I don’t always practice what I preach.

But is there ever a reason to go running on an empty stomach?

Running on an Empty Stomach

I think there is.

I don’t remember exactly when I started doing it, but I haven’t done much fueling before a long run in awhile. Granted, I haven’t done a long run in awhile, but that’s neither here nor there. Getting back to the point, why would I purposely stack the deck against myself when it comes to fueling before a training run.

The answer is really simple, I want to make my training difficult so my races will be as “easy” as possible.

Flipping the Script on Race Day

I know what you’re thinking, that you’re not supposed to do anything on race day that you haven’t already tried dozens of times during your training. Yeah, well, I consider that to be more of a loose guideline as opposed to a hard rule.

I’ve called plenty of audibles on race day, and so far at least, I really don’t have any terrible stories to tell because of it.

But in this case, I’m giving myself an assist on race day. If I’m able to run 18+ miles with little to know fuel, it is actually easier for me to get through 26.2 when I’m fueling and hydrating regularly during the race.

To me, it’s the same reason a baseball player warms up with a heavier bat, a sprinter trains by running with a small parachute, and a swimmer does laps with a kick board. By making it harder in practice, you’re better able to overcome the challenge (mental and/or physical) in the actual event.

Should You Try Running on an Empty Stomach?

If you’re a new runner, I’d recommend holding off until you have  a few races under your belt.

But if you’ve been running for awhile, I’d absolutely recommend doing your morning training runs without eating anything and see how you feel. You might not notice the difference at first, but especially if it’s a long run day, you might really feel yourself crashing towards the end.

That’s ok.

Stack the deck against yourself by running on an empty stomach, and then stack the deck in your favor on race day by eating breakfast and fueling regularly.

For some more insight about running on an empty stomach, just hit play below!

2 replies
  1. Pete K
    Pete K says:

    I’ve been experimenting lately with different types of fueling strategies for training runs. On weekdays I’ll run 45-90 minutes on an empty stomach, usually at low or moderate intensity. I started doing this because I didn’t have time to let breakfast digest before a run and still make it to work on time. After about a year of this, I’ve adapted to be able to run 2-3 hours with no fuel. I found that when I do take in carbs during a longer run, it helps improve performance beyond the level I was at before I started the empty stomach runs. I’m working on adapting my body to burn fat for fuel and rely less on carbs. I find it interesting to hear how this works or doesn’t work for other people. Thanks, Denny, for sharing your experience with depletion runs!

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Awesome Pete! To me, it makes sense logically that training while depleted will help improve performance when the tank is full, and I’m glad to hear that someone else can corroborate my experience!


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